Friday, October 28, 2005

Return of the Chronic Bronchitis

I know that I am very ridiculous... I have been battling a heavy bout of Bronchitis for the past week, which feels as if I am spewing out most of my bronchiols with every cough. I have been prescribed an inhaler, which is heaven-sent when I am startled in the middle of the night by the sound of my own rasping breath. I am also on maxi-dose antibiotics, and was scolded off to the nearest hospital to get an x-ray for my 2-ton chest. I have insomnia from trying to find an adequate position to fall asleep in, which will not squash my aorta and kill me from suffocation. Not to mention trying to balance the lung-clasp with fraying a position between the protruding springs of my new old mattress. If I walk 5 minutes on flat ground, I need 10 minutes to catch my breath...
And still I cannot even cut down a teeny bit on smoking. I insist on having my morning coffee with a cigarette, even though my throat is barely a millimeter wide, and I have to scrunch up my eyes in pain as the smoke forces its way down to my clogged lungs. If I'm smoking in a cafe, everyone tuts at me for making such a racket with my bouts of coughing.
Between two puffs of smoke, I need one puff of my inhaler. Talk about masochism...
I am ridiculous, yet I cannot stop. The thought is inconcievable. I am irreversibly addicted to nicotine.
And it freaks the living daylights out of me!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

New Home, New Flat... New Anxieties

I've finally settled into the new flat, even though I still do not consider it my home. I know it needs time, but I don't like change. My food is in a box on the kitchen counter, because I haven't managed to pin down any of my other 4 flatmates to empty out my cupboard space. There's beard hair all over the bathroom floor, empty pepsi cans in the lounge, not to mention an unwashed plate of dried up and shrivelled pasta next to the sink. I can't remove the blotches of Blu-tak on the wall, because they seem to have super-glued to the paint. The ceiling in the lounge is leaking water (and winter hasn't even started yet), and my next-door room neighbour listens to heavy metal.
But the rent is cheap, the flatmates seem nice (though untidy), and there are neither cockroaches nor mice wandering about.
So I guess I'll give it some time...

And I'll wait til tomorrow to dissect the New Job part, because, yeah, I got the job.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Ugly Brown Closet

I never thought that moving home would be so difficult. I have been trying my best for the past 4 days to send my stuff a few blocks south of my chicken shop flat, but it has proved almost ridiculously impossible. And the reason is pretty simple: an ugly brown closet.
There are two closets in the new room, and not owning a clothes factory, frankly, I don't need the extra storage. But it's obnoxiously there, and there's no way of getting it out of the smack-middle of my new (teeny) room. The house is 4-floors high and Amsterdam-narrow, and the window's too small to chuck it out...
I've been having delirious fantasies of breaking it into a million brown pieces with an axe, but only I managed to shatter my mirror (which is not so bad, cause it distorted me with a few extra kilos anyway). Basically, my clothes, shoes and scanner are in one flat, my bedsheets, laptop and desk are in the other, and I'm in the middle of the road with my wet bike. So I escaped the torment by sitting at the coffeeshop for 3 hours, writing endless To Do lists while engorging astronomical amounts of caffeine to drown the mental paralysis.
I know there's a way to resolve the curse of the ugly brown closet, but til then, I will sit on my wet ass and wait. If I smoke enough roll-ups, it might just disappear...

Sunday, October 16, 2005

"A Perfect Day"

Coming to a big screen near you is the new movie by Lebanese film-making duo Joana & Khalil Joreige, "A Perfect Day". I am not going to repeat the synopsis of the film because it's everywhere on the web, and here and here too... Basically, the movie has been travelling around festivals worldwide, has won the FIPRESCI prize at the Locarno Film Festival, and Ziad Saad (Malek) was awarded the Best Actor Award at the Namur Film Festival in Belgium, making it the first time an Arab has ever earned such a merit!

The reason why I am dwelling on this cinematic event is because Ziad is a very close friend of mine, and having attended required Drama classes at college together, I can attest to the fact that he has always been a reluctant pupil, and not a very succesful one for that matter. While I shone in class, really, he sucked... Never had he had any professional acting experience before, and I am proud to have been the first to cast him in one of my university short-movie back in the days when I still believed I could win an Oscar for Best Director. Actually, if I recall correctly, only his arm appeared in my movie, but nonetheless, I believe I do have some credit in his fine breakthrough performance in A Perfect Day.
So the award came as quite a shock for the both of us, and not being jealous in the least of my friend's award (which he was not able to personally collect for absence of a visa), I am proud to be the one to urge everyone to support this movie by your paying presence in festivals everywhere! I will be (finally) viewing it at the London Film Festival next week, and, armed with a cardboard cutout of an Oscar statuette, I will be delivering my speech of acceptance at the end of the movie on the sidewalk somewhere near the ICA exit doors.
Be there in numbers!!!! Thank you, thank you so much!

Friday, October 14, 2005

I like being tipsy. Or drunk, pissed, hammered whatever you want to call it. It proves how weak our human little bodies are: a sac of hormones, blood, organs and secretions that are too easily derailed and lead into momentous havoc. When I am drunk, it means that I have tipped over the perfectly fragile balance inside with my little finger, machiavelic drunken smile plastered on my face, and sent my microscopical hormones into apocalytical hell. Synapses short-circuited and alcohol spilled among my hemoglobins. How strange the feeling that my body loses control, that my eyes fill with blood til the veins almost burst, making the green of my iris blinding. Mary Magdalene blue-green bloodshot eyes, like the most well-composed Rheims INRI photograph...
And that smile. That daft smile of all is beautiful, and pretty and dumb.... Which panicked hormone creates the smile? Not the coy sober smile, but the dumb grin that only my drunken mind finds pretty, but that actually makes me look like a poodle on speed. Not the drunk of the red-nosed Clerkenwellers, not the drunk of the Shoreditch bus-stop pukers, but that private drunkeness, that hormonal state of un-control where everyone is worried because I look much too happy.
I don't really know why I am talking about being drunk. I have not wined enough, or else I would've been too selfishly happy to disgress on my state. I have raised my tolerance of wine too fast in the past year, and only the corners of my mouth curve up. I just wish I did not need to drink to feel the dumb ecstacy of tipsiness. I wish I did not need to poke my hormones and acidify my veins in order to grin like a fool...
I finally got my National Insurance number. I am happy to be a valid i-D number in England. Cheers to barcodes.
Upon re-reading this post, I feel I have spoken the words of an alcoholic in the making... I am just bored on a Friday night, and I do believe I may have some kind of intolerance to wheat, as the pizza has made me bloat like I'm 8-months pregnant.
The mouse has said twice hello to me. It is very small. I think we may have killed its mother. What was her name, Mandy I think? She goes into my flatmate's room and hides under the closet. The cockroaches have moved out, because I am too. I am leaving my chicken shop smells on Sunday and moving to EC1. I think that they may be hiding in my suitcases: they have become so cunning, and planning a stowaway trip with me.
I think I should stop ranting now, because writing this post is making me feel a bit drunk. Stop writing and watch The Madness of King George, which came free with last week's Guardian.
Or was it the week before?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Yes! the news in English...

To all those who suffer with Arabic and Persian but have an interest in the Middle East, a service that summarizes the news of the area in English is actually out there called MideastWire . There is a small yearly charge which I think is highly worth it as it provides daily email summaries of a diversity of newspapers in the region. Also it’s refreshing to see such a project initiated by a few highly motivated young journalists with no hidden agenda but to provide a service that is so lacking in the Middle East and expose Arab opinion and news sources to anyone ineterested. check out article written on project last week in the Guardian

Ich bin ein Berliner

I too have returned from a well-deserved 4 days in Berlin (needless to say that Maha and I travelled together), and I am still in an envious daze.
Berlin is truly poignant in its specificity. Most European cities are quite alike in their topography and structure. Most of them have a busy core center, fast-paced and crowded, flanked by areas of decreasing density and heightened character. Berlin however is quite an exception. Not only is it a huge city, but it works its way in a exploded, un-structural way: there is no center per se. It is spread out, airy and light. Roads are wide, buildings are imposing, and contemporary post-reunification architecture wants itself monumental in scale, but it is all balanced by the fact that the city is fanned out on the terrain, quiet and tinged with history.
Boutiques, pubs and markets are discovered, stumbled upon by chance after a stroll along seemingly residential stretches of buildings. Berlin teases, it presents itself unannounced. It is humble. The perfect city to take a break from fast-paced restless London. Berliners are funny too, in the sense that they don't give a damn. You talk to them in English (hopefully a hint that you don't speak German) but they will reply in German monologues and expect you to understand. They will not make an effort, but you take it in their stride. They will even joke with you in German, all the while knowing you won't understand a single word. They will also raise their butt, and fart loudly, because they need to. And then they laugh (no language barrier there, though)...
And Berlin is so cheap!!! Which makes you buy ten times more on the account of cheapness... And OK, so I fell into the classic tourist rip-off of buying myself something from a tourist stall near Checkpoint Charlie, and then finding it for 10 euros cheaper in another stall five steps away: BUT it is still a 24-hour watch with Stalin's head on it! When it seems 6 o'clock on my watch, it is actually noon! With all the crap they sell at tourist stalls around the world, Berlin has the best crap of them all!
They're still selling remains from the Berlin Wall around the area too, but wouldn't you think they'd run out by now? They even have them incrusted into postcards to send back home to the family...
If I weren't in London, I would be in Berlin. Enjoying wursts on Alexanderplatz and drinking wine on Kastanienallee...
But I'm back in London, with the current obsession of finding a new room to live in, and applying for my Masters degree. I think my Stalin watch will come in handy, now that I've got a full 24 hours to fan out my anxiety...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Berlin Observations…

Just got back from a long weekend away in Berlin, with two friends and it was amazingly refreshing. While I was expecting a cold city divided between eastern communist architecture and western corporate society, grumpiness and the kind of negativity you feel in many eastern European cities. I saw instead a air of vigour where so much has happened and so much is changing that it has a certain kind of intensity to it that I have only felt in very few cities of the world and certainly did not expect it here. Maybe it was the numerous older men with moustaches (reminds me of Beirut) or the angry people and confrontational society but it felt real, unvarnished and earthly. All in all it was a much needed break. I completely zoned out of my reality and on numerous times forgot where I was in my life and confused which home I’m coming back to. This detachment from my everyday has not happened in years. So here you go, my 4 day observation of a city that I definitely recommend to everyone and to myself at least one more time!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Professor Blog

I have been invited to participate in a conference on on-line journalism taking place in UAE in November about no other than BLOGS. It'll be my first time speaking publicly to such a large crowd and I'm super excited and a little nervous.....More to come